2018 Tree of Angels

In this 2018 Advocate photo, Kayla Adams, 24, holds her daughter Alexis Adams, 4, while the girl points to her ornament on the Tree of Angels in honor of her mother. This year’s event was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but a virtual event is planned in its place.

The 18th annual Tree of Angels ceremony originally slated for next month in Port Lavaca has been canceled in light of rising COVID-19 cases in the state.

A virtual ceremony will be broadcasted in Austin that will include submissions from the Port Lavaca ceremony and other counties that canceled their event this year.

Mary Sue Woods, who is the founder of the Port Lavaca Tree of Angels ceremony, said she is thankful for the virtual option for the community.

“This will actually be their 30th anniversary ceremony in Austin, which is where the Tree of Angels started,” Sue Woods said. “People look forward to it every year, and I understand how much it means to people, but we have to be safe ... It’s good we have this virtual option.”

Verna Lee Carr, the executive advisor of People Against Violent Crime, said putting the event together has been difficult, but remembering victims is especially important this year.

“It has been tough organizing this online event for the entire state of Texas, but I kept thinking about the victims. With how hard this year has been, we have to remember them and what they need,” Carr said. “We can’t forget them. This is the least we can do for those who miss their loved ones.”

Last year, Tree of Angel ceremonies were held in more than 30 counties in Texas, but almost all of them have been canceled this year because of COVID-19 concerns, Woods said.

“They usually have Tree of Angels ceremonies all across Texas through the first week of December,” Woods said. “They’ve all been canceled except for maybe two or three.”

As part of a tradition started by former President and Governor George W. Bush, Gov. Greg Abbott proclaimed Dec. 1 through Dec. 7 Tree of Angels Week for the state of Texas.

Woods said she preemptively booked the Bauer Community Center in Port Lavaca for 2021’s ceremony and is hopeful the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided enough for the event to be held.

Chase Rogers covers breaking news and public safety for The Victoria Advocate. He can be reached at 361-574-1286, crogers@vicad.com or on Twitter.

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